China data helps Wall Street, Alcoa falls late

China data helps Wall Street, Alcoa falls late

New York: US industrial shares lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 on Monday to new 15-month highs after China bolstered expectations the world economy would strengthen, but Nasdaq fell on profit-taking in tech stocks.

China reported record imports of some commodities and stronger-than-expected exports, boosting US companies with large international operations like construction machinery maker Caterpillar Inc.

Caterpillar shares rose 6.3% to $64.13 to post their largest daily advance since late July.

“There’s definitely a China effect on US stocks today," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc rose 2.5% to $17.45 in regular trading, but the Dow component reported earnings below Wall Street estimates after the closing bell, and its stock fell 4%.

Alcoa was the first Dow component to announce results, unofficially launching the earnings season that will show whether profits and outlooks will be strong enough to fuel further gains in stocks.

Large technology shares dragged the Nasdaq lower, with Apple Inc down 0.9% to $210.11 and Microsoft Corp down 1.3% to $30.27.

International Business Machines Corp fell 1.2% to $129.30.

“A lot of the high-profile technology names that have had extraordinary runs are taking a breather," Boockvar said.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 45.80 points, or 0.43%, to 10,663.99. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 2.00 points, or 0.17%, to 1,146.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 4.76 points, or 0.21% to 2,312.41.

The S&P 500 has risen every trading day so far in 2010, the second-longest streak starting a year since 1987’s seven straight days of gains.

Data from China showed the country ended 2009 with record monthly imports of crude oil and soybeans and a strong appetite for iron ore and copper, while its exports rose 17.7 percent year-over-year.

United Parcel Service rose 4.4% to $62.82 and FedEx Corp was up 2.7% to $87.25. An analyst at Stifel Nicolaus said both rose on expectations the unusually cold weather will drive US consumers to shop online, increasing shipment volumes.

The S&P industrial sector rose 1.2%, making it the best performing group during the session.

Citigroup upgraded some energy companies, including Chevron Corp, whose shares rose 1.8 percent to $80.88. But the oil company’s shares fell more than 1% after the bell following Chevron’s fourth-quarter earnings update.

Decliners in the regular session included Procter & Gamble , down 0.4% to $60.20 after BMO Capital Markets cut its rating on the stock on concern Friday’s devaluation in Venezuela could hurt sales and revenue.

Walt Disney Co lost 2% to $31.25 after it was downgraded by Janney Capital Markets.

After the closing bell, video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc cut its fiscal 2010 outlook, sending its shares down 8%.

Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was just below 1 billion shares, less than last year’s estimated daily average of 2.18 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 2.09 billion shares traded, above last year’s daily average of 1.63 billion.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of about 3 to 2, while on the Nasdaq nearly the same number of stocks fell as rose.